What is the Importance of Public Opinion in a Democracy, and by what Means can it be Expressed?

By Shivank Goel|Updated : September 5th, 2022

Public opinion holds great importance in a democracy as it is a government 'for the people' and 'of the people.' Lending an ear to public views is essential to a democratic government. To build a strong government, being receptive to what the public has to say is reasonably necessary.

  • The people naturally trust a government that listens to its people and works accordingly.
  • If a government does not function properly, a mass opinion against it can topple it easily by voting against it in the elections and bringing in a new government.
  • Public confidence needs to be built up by the government while introducing new policies or planning to make decisions that will affect society in one or more ways. If the governing party fails to do so, it might lead to public protests and other unpleasant events.

Public opinion can be expressed through various means, such as

  • Legislature
  • Holding public meetings and forming associations
  • Processions, rallies, or strikes
  • Educational institutions
  • Political parties
  • Social media platforms
  • Press, Radio, and TV
  • Religious Institutions

What is Public Opinion?

Public opinion is an aggregation of the collective ideas of the public regarding social, economic, and political matters. The term 'public opinion' was coined by John Locke in the 17th century, although the idea of a 'public opinion' is older than that. The concept of 'voice of the people' or 'Vox populi' is an ancient Latin concept.

An opinion is not necessarily backed by a fact, as it is more of an expression of one's feelings towards something. Therefore, public opinion is the collective expression of people's feelings towards the government and its policies. Public opinion holds enough power to topple a government or make one stay for many years on the condition that it is heard and respected.

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  • Democracy is based on people’s thoughts & opinions being ‘for the people’ and ‘by the people’ and ‘of the people’; therefore, public opinion is important in a democracy.

  • Public opinion can be expressed in democracy through various means such as newspapers, radio, TV, social media, processions & political debates & meetings, etc.

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